Google and OnMousedown Events

12 comments
Source Title:
Google "rewriting" URLs
Story Text:

Over at WMW, SoftwareEngineer99 picked up on something I never noticed had gone mainstream at Google. They are tracking clicks in their SERPs, and there is different JavaScript functions that are used to track the clicks based on the searcher's user agent.

Commercially it has to make sense. Yahoo have done it forever and you can't beat good old fashioned public opinion. If 99% of people click result 7 rather than result 6 and stay at that site for ages then surely rsult 7 would be more relevant than the one above it.

It's interesting to take a look at the code that does the tracking though.

If you use Firefox you get presented with a function called rwt. I tried to include it, but Nick's sensible JS / Drupal security policy means it won't show correctly here.

It's subtley different in IE and other browsers but doesn't matter too much.

The interesting part is that the variable

ei

changes for every search term. The one in an example is:

ei=NoT8QqKQKrKoRdK8pTU

and is for a certain word everyone here knows very well. My question to you all is can you work out what the search term is and if so how did you come up with the calculation?

Whoever does will have given themselves a big drink from me and the ability to potentially assist themselves if (as I think they either do now or will in time) Google are using this data to assist their quality of SERPs

Comments

case sensitive

The code is case sensitive, so if we're to try "brute force" or wild guesses, were you using uppercase, lowercase, or some kind of mix?

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If 99% of people click result 7 rather than result 6

Considering that 50% of queries are unique, I think it's being used more as an overall quality indicatior. Ie. "how many percent click the top three-five-ten results on average" or something like that.

can I have half a prize?

I reckon the first six digits are a check digit, a session ID and a geo-locator.

I think it's being used more

Quote:
I think it's being used more as an overall quality indicatior

I think you're probably right mate

Quote:
I reckon the first six digits are a check digit, a session ID and a geo-locator

I agree with you there is more than just keyword / search phrase data in the ei variable. It will definately make it more tricky to work out ! O well, brute force methods will still work.

Thank you WWW::Mechanize :)

...

why doesn't everyone do a quick search for 'google' or something - all we need is the tld, the country you're in, the time you did it and the result you get.

And perhaps your browser, operating system and data centre

And whatever else I forgot.....

Ack!

Some kind of hash key, I think, but base 64 decoding (with or without the first 6 digits) is still rubbish. Obviously not rot13.

Anyone know what encryption methods G likes? Matt C is ex-NSA, so he'd be familiar with just about everything. What's "sexy" at the moment, the geeks choice?

Must be A=1, B=2

etc.

If 99% of people click

Quote:
If 99% of people click result 7 rather than result 6 and stay at that site for ages then surely rsult 7 would be more relevant than the one above it.

I have said Google was tracking click data and using it to improve their SERPs for a long time. Everyone thought I was crazy. It totally makes sense. Validation feels great.

Why use onmousedown rather

Why use onmousedown rather than onclick?

Is it time to fire up the

Is it time to fire up the clickbot?

I blogged about this the day before

Full details here

A search, using Google, revealed they'd switched this sort of thing on and off a fair few times over the years.

[)amien

Jon Glick said he thought

Jon Glick said he thought click tracking might be used for demotion but they probably would not want to use it too much for promotion due to ease of spamming.

What am I missing?

They have been doing this on and off for a few years. Why is it somehow noteworthy now?

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